A greener way to manage Garden Waste subscriptions
The London Borough of Bexley has been the leading borough for recycling rates for many years and is an enthusiastic supporter of incentive programmes to ensure that it maintains its pole position.
With the increasing number of households adding to the waste challenge, Bexley has introduced an optional Garden Waste subscription service to help preserve budgets for critical front line services. The new service is run using Agile’s purpose built software to manage sign up, renewals, cancellations and change of address details for all subscribers.
“We wanted to make it as easy as possible for subscribers to sign up”, says recycling officer, Rebecca Goodwin. “We already offer incentive programmes via mobile apps, so being able to offer residents the choice to subscribe online via their phones fits well with our thinking on using the technology in people’s pockets to encourage even more recycling”.
The advantage of providing online sign up was demonstrated when Bexley sent out leaflets to market the new service and found that the number of people wanting to sign up immediately exceeded expectations, putting pressure on call centre staff. On peak days, 1,000 residents would try to register by phone ‐ the call centre was stretched to the limit and 6 staff had to be allocated solely to handle garden waste sign ups. By contrast, residents who chose to register online avoided delays and were able to sign up straight away.
Immediate cost savings
In 3 months, 30,000 residents had subscribed to the Garden Waste service. This figure exceeded expectations and was nearing Bexley’s anticipated 3 year target. Approximately 65% of subscribers signed up using e‐mail addresses, enabling Bexley to deliver their welcome letter as an email and so reduce their costs of print and posting. Based on typical council estimates of the costs of letter production and posting (£1.50), the fact that they were able to email saved the council nearly £30,000 in 3 months.
There have been more cost savings at renewal of service as the automated renewal process delivers up to four communications per customer (a renewal letter, a reminder to renew letter, a confirmation of renewal letter or a cancellation letter) by email. This delivers savings of between £60,000 ‐ £90,000 over the cost of sending 2 or 3 letters by post.
“Making significant savings on print and postage is a great benefit of course”, says Rebecca, “and for us, the added bonus is that we’re building online channels of communication with our residents that open up all kinds of possibilities for the future”.
Agile’s Garden Waste Subscription software was chosen as a highly cost competitive, “Software as a Service” option that enabled the authority to use the full functionality of the system without the need to invest in new hardware. The estimated annual savings on letter production and postage alone are £100,000 and the implementation has also highlighted the potential for savings in administration time and the cost per transaction.